There’s nothing like receiving a thoughtful gift from a friend or loved one. New stuff can be fun, but what’s really nice is the meaning behind the act.
However, pipe smoking is a niche hobby, and it may seem intimidating to shop for a pipe smoker if you're not so familiar with the field. Whether a long time passion or budding interest of the special person you're shopping for, you may be unsure if you can locate their preferences and pick the right gift.
Even if you don't know this world of pipes and tobaccos so well, you can find something that the pipe smoker in your life will be grateful to receive. Here, we'll get into some gift giving ideas for pipe smokers.
A New Pipe
For many pipe smokers, there’s something very special about receiving a tobacco pipe from someone they care about. The pipe takes on a certain sentimentality; you will certainly be thought of fondly each time your giftee packs that pipe for a smoke.
But with pipes, just as with anything else, we all have our individual tastes. Preferences are informed by aesthetics as well as performance and comfort. Pipe smokers can usually attest to the beauty of a pipe that they nonetheless know isn’t for them, perhaps because of its size or whether the pipe takes a filter or not. So, it helps to at least be aware of any nonstarters when it comes to your pipe smoker's preferences.
Here are some ideas for approaching buying a pipe for a pipe smoker.
What do they like?
This one is obvious, take note of what they like and inform your decision that way. But maybe you're not sure about the particulars you're looking for.
Is there a pattern in size of pipes in their collection? What about types of finishes (smooth, sandblast, rusticated)? Do they like filter pipes? Do they gravitate to a particular brand? Of course, there will be outliers even where there is a preference, but these are all things to keep in mind when trying to glean some pattern.
And remember, you can always bring what information you have to us and we'll do our best to translate. For instance, if the giftee says they like "classic" shapes, or some specification you don't quite know what to do with, you just give us a shout.
Sometimes we like the idea of branching out, but get a bit set in our ways. Think about what your pipe smoker doesn't have—is it because they're uninterested, or maybe they just haven't explored it yet? For example, most any wooden pipe you see is made from briar. Does the person you're shopping for have a pipe made from a different material such as meerschaum or morta wood? It could be a meaningful gesture to gift them their first.
Artisan and One-of-a-Kind Pipes
Or maybe you'd like to treat them to an artisan pipe. These are pipes made by hand by skilled craftsmen. Check out some great makers such as J Mouton, Northern Briars, Bruno Nuttens, and Sean Reum (some of their pipes pictured below in the order listed). Each artisan pipe maker has the mark of their style in their work, giving this gift a personal touch.
One of a kind pipes in general make great gifts. There's something sweet about receiving a pipe that only you have. All of our artisan pipes fall into this category, but it is not only artisan pipes, so there are options in lower price tiers.
Maybe you’re buying for a truly green beginner who hasn’t yet Gotten Their Kit Together, or someone who has only expressed interest in trying a pipe. Pipe Sets are perfect for these budding pipe smokers. We have some great Rattray and Savinelli kits which come with all one needs to get started: pipe, multi-purpose tool, cleaners, filters, and a case.
You can check out some more options in our Best Pipe Kits for Beginners blog.
What about choosing pipe tobacco blends? The obvious answer is to take note of the blends your pipe smoker already enjoys and help keep them stocked up. That will certainly be appreciated, but maybe you want to treat them to something new.
Tobacco blends are categorized into different types—or, “families"—based on the makeup of the mixture. Some blends squarely fit into one category, but it’s not always so neat.
If you can gather what your pipe smoker’s preferences are, check out these blogs offering recommendations within the different blend types, or curated by other shared qualities that may lean to a pipe smoker's personal preferences.
Some thoughts on choosing tobacco:
- If you're shopping for someone relatively new to pipe smoking and is still very much exploring, getting a variety of tobaccos from different blend families could be a great way to help them along. One excellent option is the Amphora Sampler Pack.
- Bulk blends are a great way to explore at little cost. You can get as little as one ounce for a few bucks. You can look for a diversity of types, or if you know the giftee’s preference for blend type, perhaps find some they haven’t tried using that information as a guide. Again, feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help turn that information into suggestions.
The trappings of pipe smoking offer many options for gifts. Also, I think there's a bit more leniency in navigating the tastes of the pipe smoker when it comes to finding the right pipe or tobacco accessory. Though I'm sure there are exceptions, I think most of us are by-and-large more choosy about the smaller details when it comes to our pipes and tobaccos. You can’t go wrong with some of the necessities all pipe smokers need.
When it comes to lighting a pipe, matches or even a Bic from the gas station can get the job done. For this reason, many who enjoy a pipe often wait on upgrading their flame-source. Treating your pipe smoker to a quality lighter can be a wonderful and appreciated gift. Pipe lighters' soft flame and the angle of the flame make them particularly amenable to achieving a nice, even smolder in a bowl and help to avoid charring the rim of one's pipe.
(I'll give the caveat however that many pipe smokers don't prefer Zippos for their pipe lighting as they find the lighter fluid affects the taste unlike the premium butane used in those mentioned above).
Another great gift for pipe smokers, especially if you're looking for some smaller items, is a new tamper. Or maybe a few.
Most pipe smokers start with your traditional 3-in-1 Czech tool, but there's a lot more individual preference that factors into tamper choice than one might assume given the simplicity of the tool.
With pipe smokers new to the hobby, it's often not until trying a few different tampers that the true utility of this little action comes through. The weight and size of the tool are important factors, especially when considering different pipe sizes. So, having a little variety can help one locate what works for them.
- The Cobblestone Leather One Pipe Stand - a very convenient multipurpose tool that is also a pipe stand, and I quite appreciate its wider tamper for wider chambers.
- Rattray’s Thin Caber Tamper - the bamboo makes for an eye-catching tamper. The Thin Caber features a concave face that many find preferable. Also includes a removable prod tool on the opposing end.
- Brigham Horse Nail - my personal favorite for most pipes, the Horse Nail is narrow, offering a good deal of dexterity in manipulating the contents of the bowl. Also hosts a scraper on the other end.
- Ascorti Briar Tamper - Very light and a simple yet attractive design.
- Briarville Railroad Date Nail Tamper - these are actual refurbished railroad nails. Each has a different size, but all on the weightier side.
Pipe and Tobacco Pouches
When you have these nice pipes, you ought to have a stylish and protective method of transporting them. At the very least, it is good to have a simple two pipe bag for carrying pipes for the day, such as those from Cobblestone or Rattray’s.
Many pipe smokers wait on getting that larger bag until it's really needed. As the collection grows it can be difficult to narrow down to a couple pipes for a few day trip. Larger bags for such occasions can be very nice gift. I recommend checking out some of what 4th Generation and Jobey have to offer.
Then there are tobacco pouches, a wonderful gift that is simple but very convenient and always worth having around. The Savinelli Leather Pipe and Tobacco Bag is a personal favorite that offers the perfect compact carrier for a day out in a distinguished and a classic look.
However, there are many options for straightforward tobacco pouches—such as the Jobey Small Zipper Pouch shown above—that make great small gifts. This lambskin pouch with plastic lining will keep tobacco from drying out—a simple yet effective accessory for the ergonomic pipe smoker.
I imagine that for many, this list may have offered some ideas but may serve to raise questions as well. As I wrote before, if you'd like guidance from someone in the field, we would love to help you navigate. Just reach out!